Speaking, Gesturing, Drawing, Building: Relational Techniques of a Kreyòl Architecture examines the communicative practices of diverse actors across class, profession, and nationality, in designing and building domestic architecture in contemporary Haiti to theorize Kreyòl architecture as a relational technique manifesting and disrupting inequities in the built environment.
The everyday languages – vernaculars and creoles – that produce the majority of the global built environment continue to be delegitimized as ways of knowing, building, and inhabiting by an architectural discipline centered in the global North. Architecture modeled as relational techniques negotiated by diverse actors shows how problems of exclusion contributed to systematic failures to communicate needs and implement reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. I examine the communicative media through which contractors, architects, clients, and non-governmental organizations design Haitian houses based on extended ethnographic fieldwork in Leyogàn, Haiti, at the earthquake’s epicenter. The use of linguistic, visual, and material representations of space varies with actors and aligns with class-based hierarchies of materials, methods, agency, and education. By investigating how communicative practices function, and malfunction, across producers of domestic architecture, I theorize Kreyòl architecture as a syncretic, dynamic, historical negotiation of global techniques simultaneously manifesting and disrupting power.